(Photo is Copyright Nicole S. Young – All Rights Reserved)
One thing that I really like to photograph is food. It combines two things I love to do – take photos and cook! Here are some things to keep in mind when setting up for food photography:
Lighting: As usual, lighting is going to be the most important thing to be aware of. When photographing food natural lighting is always going to look the most realistic. If you have soft diffused light coming in through a window and can set up next to it then you are in luck (a North-facing window will usually yield the most pleasing results). You can also use a reflector, or any white or reflective surface, to bring light back into the shadow areas of your setup.
Exposure: My only advice here is to try to use very shallow depth-of-field. I try to get in close and use an aperture setting somewhere between F/2.8 and F/5.6 to add a nice soft feel to the image.
Food: Fresh, crisp, clean food is always going to photograph better than something that has been sitting in your refrigerator for a few days. Make a trip to the grocery store or market the day of your shoot and be very selective about what you purchase.
Styling: Food always looks different to us when we are about to eat it than when we see it in a photo. Some dishes will be picture-perfect & ready to be photographed as-is, but most will need some styling to make them look appetizing. There are professionals who do this for a living, but with a few tricks and a good amount of attention-to-detail you too can make your food look appetizing in a photo.
Dishes: Simplicity is the key here. I tend to stick with simple, white plates and one or two accent colors (a colored table or napkin, for example). You want the focus of the photograph to be about the food, so try to use dishes that don’t take the attention away from what you want people to see.
Your ultimate goal is not only to make a photograph that looks good, but also to make the food you are photographing look like something you want to eat. This is not always an easy task! My last but most important piece of advice is to look at photos around you that have food in them (and they are everywhere!). Try to figure out why the photo looks good, and implement what you see into your own photography.